I had that eerie experience yet again last night, where you recognize some aspect of yourself in a book or movie, and walk away shaking your head, perhaps shivering a bit. The culprit this time was Natalie Portman’s character in the movie Black Swan. A disturbing and powerful movie, well played, and still haunting me a bit. No I don’t look like Natalie, nor am I a dancer, but her struggles with perfection and letting go? Oh boy do I get that. I get it like a second skin. I live it every day, I struggle with it, and while I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it, I totally get the ending. Makes complete sense to me in a twisted way.
Why is it so hard to let go and just be myself? Why is it so (seemingly) easy for some, and such a struggle for others? I watched a great TED talk the other day by Dr. Brene Brown, thanks to Mrs G, and found her thoughts on vulnerability and shame and connection with others rather poignant. They struck home hard, playing a companion chord to the same “be yourself, be vulnerable, be free” note as the movie. Dr Brown points out how that we all (Americans especially) work so hard to numb or medicate our feelings of vulnerability that we risk not connecting at all. Most of us have a pretty well-developed sense of shame, tied to a myriad of different things, but it’s that shame and it’s resultant fears that keep us isolated.
I think we’re particularly vulnerable as moms, especially when our kids are young. We’re publicly doing a very difficult job that we’ve never done before, everyone has strong opinions about what we should/shouldn’t do, and the consequences of doing a bad job are huge. We’re overtired, underpaid, stressed, and naturally isolated by dint of how much we simply have to do. We’re hard on each other, for fear of being judged ourselves. We ARE judged often, by strangers and friends alike. We also make dangerous assumptions based on just a few snippets of information (thanks DaMomma), and end up causing harm or hurt. We jab each other without even meaning to. We lose our willingness to be vulnerable, just as our job of parenting makes us naturally more vulnerable than ever. It’s a dangerous dance, this shutting down and internalizing, when we desperately need to be gentle and kind to ourselves, and to our fellow moms.
I try my best to be open in my writings, but I still often find myself erasing a line or thought because I’m not really willing to pin it up for all to see and react to. My skin isn’t very thick, quite frankly, but I’m as honest as I can be at this point.
So where have you recognized yourself lately? Any perfection and letting-go issues? Particular vulnerabilities? Love to hear about it!